Back in 1979, the Iranians took control of our US Embassay in Tehran. They held American hostages there for 444 days. At that time, having been stricken with grief over that contentious situation, I wrote a song that pertained to some of the issues surrounding that situation--our conflict with Iran. At that time I named the song "December '79". Recently I changed the name of the song. Listen to the message, which is much broader than I realized at that time, especially now since Hamas, supported by Iran, has attacked our ally, Israel, and inflicted holocaust upon the people of Israel. Listen:
Meanwhile, on a more down-to-earth level . . .
. . . asking for redemption, having no plan
but to strum a melody out of the stars
and pray for rain
to wash away our fears.
May God help us keep our
Listen to my new verse added to the Star-spangled Banner. The recording is a little rough around the edges, being a downhome tabletop recording, unlike most of my music links below, which were recorded in studio, many years ago. But this one's pretty fresh and raw:
Oh say can you see, in the 2021 light
What we so proudly maintained
after a riotous fight.
That broad dome and wide steps
through the perilous fight
O’er the barricades we watched
was so gallantly retained!
As our Congress did dare, with teargas in the air,
giving proof through the fight
that our Congress was still there;
O say does that Capitol Congress remain
with our Presidency,
o’er the land of the free, Democracy!
Hear my song, Mountaintop, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
Listen to my new verse added to the Star-spangled Banner. But beware; it is, unlike most of the tunes that can be heard in the links below, a downhome recording having no studio quality:
Here's a snippet from my fourth novel, published during 2014-2017 King of Soul. . . this passage from chapter 5:
But Liberty and Justice for All is not something that just happens.
As compatriots with liberation and deliverance, liberty and justice emerge triumphant from the very embattlements of human history. Where their zealous advocates manage to grab some foothold in the landscape of human struggle, freedom is fleeting not far behind. Noble aspirations are all summoned up when the careless slayings of men demand value more sacred, more holy, than the mere clashing of weapons and the expiration of breathing bodies.
In our present exploration’s story, the bad news is: there is an inevitable outflow—the shedding of blood—which propels violence to ever higher levels of atrocity.
The good news is: where there’s shedding of blood, Soul is not far beneath.
In the summer of 1964, all of these elements of human struggle converged in an unprecedented way. Way down south, in the piney woods and sweltering fields of Mississippi, a new activist strain of blood-red camellia was taking root in that freshly-tilled civil rights black delta loam. As God had heard the cry of Abel’s blood arising from Edenic soil, he heard now the beckoning of enshrouded laborers, those dead and these living. Their muted cries called forth liberation; they demanded deliverance.
So while black folk of the deep South were struggling to register their right to vote as Americans, a vast brigade of like-minded souls from other regions caught a whiff of their newly-planted liberty, and so the new brigades took it upon themselves to go down to Mississippi and lend a hand.
Go down, Moses, was the call. Go down, collective Moses.
There were many who heard that call; there was even a man named Moses, Bob Moses from Harlem. He, and others who stood with him against discrimination, planted themselves in Mississippi at the crossroads of injustice and opportunity. Down here in the verdant lap of Dixie where the honeysuckles twine sweetly and the slaves had mourned bitterly, a battalion of wayfaring strangers from far and near came to cultivate the new growth of freedom.
They were filling a void in the whole of the human soul. Robbed of freedom, the Soul of Man wails out a distress call; then in regions afar, the Soul of Man hears, and resonates with action. Deep calls unto deep.
Here's a snippet from my third novel, published during 2014-17 Smoke. It's an historical flashback. . .
When the Bolsheviks tore down the Russian Czar’s gilt empire, they immediately began exporting their revolution to the world. That’s the way Marx had conceived their grand plan, and so that’s the way they intended to liberate the working world from the rapacity of capitalistic exploitation. They stubbornly undertook their worldwide project in spite of severe infighting and confused disorganization. So in spite of themselves, the Reds were able to intimidate their moneyed nemeses to the West. Fearfully anticipating an onslaught of Communism from the East, the European houses of wealth and power were scrambling for defenses.
Thus did they mistakenly identify, in the late 1930s, the German reich, newly constructed under Hitler’s forcefully vicious methodology, as a wishful bastion of European order and capitalistic vigor. Weren’t the Germans the proud forgers of finely-tuned industry and disciplined authority?
The leaders of the western world were slowly deluding themselves into a tragically misguided assessment of Hitler. Too many of them saw his rise as a potential defense of European order, and the wealth that sustained it.
This confrontation of semi-biblical proportions would hold as captive a newborn republic, Czechoslovakia, soon to be orphaned at the doorstep of Western naiveté.
In Petrograd, and Moscow, and out in the wide Siberian steppes, the intrepid Bolshevik leaders purged themselves of dissenters as they went. Apparently this was an unforeseen part of the newly forged Marxist internal machinery—blood and vengeance.
What the Marxists and the Bolsheviks despised in the gathering of personal wealth they made up for in the accumulation of power—raw, coerced, gulaged power.
The revolutionaries’ starting premise had been the dissolution of the old order, which was, in Russia, the Czar. Then they intended to rebuild society from the peasantry up, through collective power, collective action and collective ownership of the means of production, The whole plan looked workable on paper—appropriating the means of production from the rich and distributing it to the people, the new so-called proletariat. But the working out of their plan was a different animal. As time passed, it could be seen in the heartless manipulations of the Soviets that power was gravitating toward one man, Josef Stalin. And he was no nice guy.
By the late 1930s, this was obvious to Adolf Hitler, because he was doing the same thing, drawing power to himself, although he was casting his net in the German way, which was of course superior, or so he thought, to every other damned nation in the world.
Hitler and Stalin were both, at the same time, eliminating from within their own ranks those who resisted them. And they both used the same methods—murder and fear. Stalin purged those whom he considered enemies of the state, and thereby cultivated rampant fear of insubordination within the ranks. Hitler also killed those who resisted him from within, but his violent strategy went one step further: he elevated, by deceit, his own vengeful struggle (Mein Kampf) to an unprecedented level of hyper-decadent Third Reich policy.
That one man could inflict such putridity upon the world was an offense of demonic proportions. Even Josef Stalin was fooled.
Most folks, including the leaders of the so-called civilized world, were clueless about what was going on behind the scenes in Germany and Russia. The bloody business was being conducted in secret places, under cover of darkness. But there was one group of people who detected early on, as they always have, what was happening to our world. Because they, before all others, would pay the dear price for such highly-organized slaughter.
Listen in on my conversation with podcaster Anssi Lihtonen, at "Cosmic Turtle", where he featured several of my songs, along with a few other relevant contemporary song selections: Cosmic Turtle
Here's a snippet from chapter 6,Glass half-Full. Marcus and Bridget visit our Lincoln Memorial.
They walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When they reached the top, Bridget was gazing, like most everyone else who ascends here, with rapt interest at the seated statue. But Marcus, holding Bridget’s hand, gently prodded her to keep moving, slowly to the left, through the myriad of ambling visitors.
They came to an inner sanctum. Carved on the white marble wall in front of them were the words of the slain President’s Gettysburg address. Marcus stopped, taking in the enormity of it, both physically and philosophically. He was looking at the speech intently. Bridget was looking at him.
After a few moments: “Isn’t that amazing?
“Yes.” She could see that he was thinking hard about something. The great chamber echoed a murmur of humankind.
“Supreme irony.” The longing of a nation’s soul reverberated through the memorial… in the soundings of children, the whisperings of passersby. Deep within Marcus’ soul, something sacred was stirring, and she could see it coming forth.
“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.” He was reading aloud Lincoln's words on the white wall.
But for the echoes of a million people who had passed through this place, there was silence. After a moment, Bridget responded. “…and yet, there it is carved on the wall, for all to see: ‘the world will little note what we say here….’”
“Right, Bridget. Isn’t it amazing?”
Suddenly, amid the noise was a loud shouting.
Marcus could hear where it was coming from. He moved quickly away, toward the noise, to see what was happening. Bridget felt the sudden coolness of air on her hand, in the absence of Marcus’ gentle grip.
As soon as he emerged from behind the marble column, Marcus was puzzled by an incongruous, glistening wet flash of red upon the feet of Lincoln’s statue. What the hell? Instinctively, he ran over to it. He could still hear a constant shouting; it was a ranting. Then his attention settled on the man who was yelling. He had a bucket in his hand, dripping with red paint. The rant went on, and suddenly Marcus was comprehending it: “…you sonofabitch see if you can get that off and then rub it on your white ass, your sorry white ass that destroyed what this country could have been you’re a traitor to your race.”
This must be a dream, a very bad dream. Marcus was noticing the speaker’s bald head, goatee, his moving mouth spouting insult. Then Marcus was deciding to do something. It seemed to him that it was someone else speaking when he asked, loudly, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The stranger, startled, turned to Marcus and looked at him. Then he opened his foul mouth: “I’m gonna make things right. There’s a lotta things need to be made right. It’s gonna start now.”
A bad dream. Marcus could feel his ire rising. His voice must have quivered with “You better leave now. You’ve defaced national property. You better find a park ranger and turn yourself in. If you don’t, I’ll turn you in.” Marcus found himself yelling, as his challenge escalated through the marble edifice.
The man turned and began to walk down the steps.
Impulsively, Marcus thought, and shouted: “Who are you, anyway?”
Marcus began following the man down the steps. “They oughta bury you under this place.” Marcus was right behind him.
Suddenly the vandal turned and punched his assailant in the face. Marcus reeled. There was blood and pain in his awareness. Impetuous, he jumped on the guy with a vengeance and tackled him. They spun downward through midair, landed with a bonecrunching impact on the steps, rolled and stopped, still lost in a fierce, flailing embrace of sudden hatred.
A crowd of people tore them apart. Then there was a D.C. cop. He arrested them both.
Listen and read. Listen and read. . . not a bad way to gather information for making value judgements about what is beneficial in history, and what is not.
Read: From chapter 8 of Glass half-Full, we find Hilda, a restaurant-owner, telling some friends about an experience she had in Germany.
"Hitler and his thugs tried to take advantage of the situation; they launched a coup d'etat, called a putsch in German. But it failed, and they ended up getting arrested. The event has been named the beer hall putsch of 1923. Well, I was reading about these police officers who were killed by the Nazis that night. And I was reading in my guide book some information about the incident. I kept hearing this beautiful music, really spirited music. We walked in the direction of the music. We turned a corner...and there they were, five musicians playing five instruments: clarinet, violin, accordion, cello, a drummer. I could tell they were Jewish right away. I considered their courage: to stand there at the Odeonsplatz where the Nazis had made their first move to try and take over the world, and declare, with their music, that Jewish people, along with their music, were alive and well in the 21st century. They inspired me. We must have listened to them for an hour...the Bridge Ensemble ."
If you see a book with the cover that is pictured below, buy it! The author, pictured in the masthead above, finished writing the novel and published it in 2017. King of Soul It's about what happened to America during the Vietnam war.
Here's another scene from King of Soul. This part of the story comes in, farther along, chapter 23. Donnie and his friend Kevin are driving up to Ohio. May 2, 1970. They pick up a hitchhiker in Tennessee. The seasoned traveler, who had recently been released from combat duty in Vietnam, recalls something that had happened in the war . . .
. . . this odd fellow sat comfortably in the back seat of Kevin’s Ford. It was weird, Donnie thought. The man’s cloaked identity covered—and at the same time, exposed—a delicate vulnerability that resided within his eyes. Revealed now as a child of the universe, though an overgrown one, he appeared to be a sojourner who had, alas, seen too much of this world, and had heard more than he signed up for. Yet somehow the ole guy had lived to tell about it. And tell about it, he would, come hell or high water.
Forsooth, he were a very special man, a country mile apart from your accustomed house guest of the tumbling-at-you 1970’s. His personality is positioned a full city block beyond the normalcy you might expect from any other run-of-the-mill world traveler in these here parts of Tennessee, or even Kentucky, whence he was bound. So a back-seat stage, it seemed, had been set for the man, because all the world’s a stage, and here the dramatis persona would be observed, brought forth in full hitchhiking raiment, sharing space for a certain time and place with Donnie and Kevin, for purposes of exposition, or elocution, or both. Now cometh his soliloquy.
“You go traipsing into a village,” Ed continued, “I’m sayin’. . .these people have lived there all their lives, in their little corner of the jungle that they’ve carved out for themselves, with papa-san and mama-san, and great-papa-san and great-mama-san. They been scratchin’ a livin’ out of the mud, the rice paddies, tryin’ to. . . just, you know, trying to make it, but they don’t have all the shit we got, no color TV, no garage with a car. It’s another world, man, like a hundred years ago. . .” Ed’s voice drifted away.
“Where were you?” Donnie asked.
“Quang Ngai province, mostly, up near the DMZ,” said Ed. Gazing out the window, his voice had dropped its intensity a notch or two; eyes focused on something faraway beyond the car window. “You go in there like you own the place, waving the M-16s around, like swingin’ your dick around at ‘em. You feel like you got total control, like, the power of life and death over them. You look into their eyes; they’re just deer in the headlights man. I don’t know how in the hell we ever got dragged into it.”
Kevin and Donnie were dumbstruck. Outside the car, Tennessee landscape rolled by in thoroughly American Saturday afternoon sunshine, forests, fields, a farm here, a barn there, a tractor disking up fresh earth for spring planting, cars zipping, going and coming. A sign said Holiday Inn 7 miles ahead. Then another, on a fence post: Burma Shave.
Ed’s lips were moving. . ."and the vortices or pits are of such an extent and depth, that if a ship comes within its attraction, it is inevitably absorbed and carried down to the bottom . . ."
“Say what, Ed?”
“You look into their eyes, and it’s absolute . . . fear. They’re scared as hell. All the men are gone, except for ole Papa-san. It’s just mama-san and the kids, and ole Papa-san, and then us damned Americans, whose visitation signifies a fateful appointment.”
“Are the men gone to the VC?”
“Maybe. See that’s the thing. You don’t know. You don’t know where the men are, They could be a hundred yards outside the village watching as you speak. They could be assembling’ weapons in a VC firebase somewhere on a nearby hilltop; they could be swimming away in the river, silent as damn catfish. The women and children, you can’t talk to ‘em. There might be one among them who speaks a little English, and you got your one platoon guy who speaks Vietnamese. You just look at ‘em. I mean, I speak the truth, you look at those little women and they look pretty damn good, if you know what I mean. It’s a hell of a predicament for a soldier to be in, especially when you’re supposed to be representing the by gawd United States of America. But then you got orders; you can’t even be thinking about one of those women. They look at you, pleading, the kids clinging to their legs, like hanging onto life itself. You feel like you could just have your way with ‘em. But they don’t know how the hell to tell you anything, and you don’t know how the hell to tell them anything, and there’s only one thing, when you get right down to it, that they understand”—
“The gun, that M-16 in your hand. You just move the thing—it’s like casting a spell. They go crazy in their eyes. You can see it in their eyes, in the eyes of them good people of the village of Song My, Vietnam.”
(little ditty composed on train ride, borrowing Old melody from Paul Simon)
So how about you hearing a few tunes we recorded back in '78,79':
There we were all in one place, a generation (as Don had sung) "lost in space". . . But much later, 2021, while we were pondering the trial of the Chicago 7, brother and sister came across this colorful story in a little bookstore in the United States of America . . .
Read, from King of Soul, my novel written and published four years ago.
In October of the year 1969, students at LSU joined together with the national Moratorium to commemorate all our soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Outside, on the large grassy area call the Parade Ground, we find Donnie, Kevin and a few other friends seated on the grass with hundreds of others, listening to the ceremony. But during a delay in the program, Kevin was sharing with his small circle of friends an account of events that had happened a year earlier, at protests in Chicago, Grant Park, which had been as close as the protesters could get to the Democratic convention a few miles away.
Kevin, again sensing enough delay to resume his account, lowered his voice and went on . . .
“Next thing anybody knows, Hayden’s instructing us to move out in small groups, toward the Loop and, I think, toward the Amphitheatre, or at least in that direction—that guy wouldn’t stop for nothin’—he was hellbent on most of us getting over to where Humphrey and McCarthy and all those other Demos were holed up inside the convention center. Tom was saying we didn’t want to be caught in the large crowd when the cops moved in on us. And he said some of us should go across the street to the Hilton. After that, I couldn’t hear what he was saying because people were getting up and moving around again. But I do remember the last thing I heard from him was ‘I’ll see you in the streets.’ Then it was like a herd of buffalo when we got up and started dispersing toward the Hilton and the Loop.”
The guy in the flak jacket was still chanting. It seemed that everybody was being quiet, except Kevin.
“What happened to Rennie?” Donnie whispered.
“The cops beat the hell out of him,” Kevin exclaimed, his neck craning as his voice amped up into a hoarse whisper. “It’s what they did to Rennie that got Hayden so upset. I mean—that’s what became obvious while Tom was speaking for the last time. He said there was ‘blood in the streets’, or ‘if there’s going to be blood, let it flow’. . .something like that. He was mad; it was all over his face, like it was tragic or something. That was when the whole protest rally turned from one thing to something else entirely.”
For a little deeper history, have a Listen:>
In chapter four of King of Soul, everyday life in Jackson, Mississippi is disrupted the day after Medgar Evers had been killed last night in his own front yard. In the Evans household, maid Aleen is not working today, but rather sitting at the dining room table having lunch with her employer, Cora Jean Evans. As they are talking about last night's murder of Medgar Evers and today's unusual events, children Nancy and Donnie involve themselves in the conversation.
Aleen was pondering. “It all seems so quick now, lookin’ back on it. Our pastor, and some of our people, were workin’ with Brotha Evers, and they stuck pretty close to him—lotta respect for Brotha Evers. But with him dead now, I guess some them from the Ndoub’lACP will be tryin’ to decide what to do about all tha’s comin’ down now. There’s a white preacher, Rev. King, who been helpin’ the coloreds a lot, and working real tight with Brotha’ Evers. As far as them civil rights people go, the one I know most about is that gal that came to Jackson State and got Rosalee—Aerlie is her name. She’s a student at Tougaloo, and I think she from McComb. She came and fetched Rosalee at the house one time. She know a lot of people. You prob’ly saw her on the news, coupla weeks ago. She’s the one who sat at the lunch counter, downtown at the drug store. The white folks dumped mustard on her and insulted her while she stayed there for a long time. That gal—she’ a fireball! With brothas and sistahs like her around, I don’t think white folks will be able to put a stop to us registerin’ to vote and . . . what all. It may take a while, though.”
“But, where . . . where do you think all this is headed? What will happen when most of your people get to voting? What will change?”
“I think most folks my age—it can’t change much for us, but maybe it don’t need to, so much. My husband, Bo—he like his work aw’right, been doin’ it a long time. We do aw’right. He owns his truck, haul produce. We raise a little too, at mama’s home place out in the country, green beans and corn. But our boys—Booker and John and Reggie—they’ll have a better time, we hope and pray. If they can get in college, like Rosalee, get educated, make somethin’ of themselves, that’ll be good.”
Cora Jean was considering this. Then she stood up. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back. Please keep your seat, Aleen.”
Then it was Aleen and Donnie sitting at the dining table. Donnie felt a little funny about it; this had never happened before. In the evenings, the table was usually stocked with supper, most of which Aleen had cooked, before she went home to cook for her own family. Donnie’s sister, Nancy, walked in the room. She’s nine.
“Where’s mama?” she said. She was looking at Aleen with curiosity.
“In the kitchen,” Donnie replied. “Go see her.”
“Go ask her if we can have some sweet potato pie.”
“No. It’s too close to dinner for pie,” objected Nancy.
“No, it’s not. Go ask her.”
“You go ask her.”
“Aw, shucks, Nancy, go sit on the couch. Me and Aleen are talkin’.”
“Talkin’ about what? I can talk too.”
“You’re not a grownup,” charged Nancy, sticking her lower lip out.
Now that was true. Sally was a little smarter than Donnie thought. She had not always been, though.
Nancy walked halfway around the table, next to Aleen. “Are you gonna cook some dinner for us, Aleen?” she asked, meekly. Her brown eyes were wide open with anticipation.
Aleen just smiled at her, and stroked the stray bangs from the girl’s forehead.
“Aw, Nancy, mama’s makin’ dinner,” Donnie declared. “ Today’s different. Can’t you see that?”
“Oh yeah, smarty pants! What’s different about it?” she persisted.
Now Donnie was stumped. Something was indeed different about today, but he didn’t know what, except he knew that some important colored man had been shot and Aleen’s daughter had been arrested.
His sister was involved now, and she liked it that way. She looked at Donnie, challenging him with her eyes. “Aleen’s sittin’ at the table. That’s what’s different!”
Donnie could not argue with that. It’s a fact. “Are you gonna eat dinner with us today?” Nancy asked.
Aleen busted it with a big belly laugh, her head arched back in delight. “Ha! ha ha, chile, you got a mouth on ya, don’t you! and a big mind, too!”
The child was turning red.
“You just like Rosalee! You gots that thinkin’ cap on, an’ watchin’ an’ list’nin to everything.”
Nancy was basking in the praise. When Aleen’s laughter had subsided, she asked, “Who’s Rosalee?”
Aleen’s eyes opened wide with amusement. She had never felt so uninhibited in this dining room as she did just now. And all because of a child’s persevering curiosity. “Chile! Rosalee is my niece, honey.”
“She’s in jail,” Donnie quipped.
“Oh, she won’t stay in jail, honey. She just in there for a little while,” Aleen explained, putting her hand affectionately on Nancy’s shoulder.
In chapter 24 of King of Soul, we find our main guy, Donnie Evans,an LSU sophomore student visiting Kent State University on May 4, 1970. We see Donnie suddenly surrounded by confusion and chaos as the Ohio National Goard begin their troop movement up Blanket Hill.
Guardman Joe was sweating profusely beneath the plastic visor of the gas-mask. He felt dizzy, disoriented, confused. Trying to follow orders was like trying to thread a needle through a camel’s ass, in a stupor. Noise was all everywhere. Students shouting, throwing rocks, yelling, jeering. Girls cursing them like sailors. High and low and everywhere every whichway in between was sweat and insult and discomfort and he needed to pee and this thing was going down hill fast when the hell would it be over.
Joe felt himself being squeezed apart from the rational world. Inside the mask, sweat and gas were tearing his consciousness far from any civilian sensibility about what should be done here, or not done. What action to take, he could not determine; what direction to move, he could know only by a dim following of his platoon-mates. No longer able to distinguish the voice of his commanding officer from the din of the battle, Joe wandered down into a purgatory of confusion. A stone hit his back. Another stone struck his helmet with a metallic thud that rattled the ridges of his brain.
“Joe! listen up.” he heard. But his mind was occupied with the awareness that now he was standing on level ground. They no longer were trudging down a hillside. Where were they? Where am I?
“Joe! On the count of three, kneel and assume firing position, but do not fire! I repeat, do not fire! This move will be a warning to these bastards. If we have to do it again, it will not be a warning the second . . . One, two, three, down!”
Joe went down on his knee. Struggling in the fog of war to catch sight of some indicator, dimly he saw, while turning head side to side, the profile of his buddies in each direction. But in front, and behind was only. . .who the hell could know what was out there. They looked like ants running around. But it made no sense. Who ever heard of ants screaming?
Breathing hard, sweating, gas burning through the mask. Noise. More rocky ballistics on his helmet.
Cousin Will, walking across the parking lot, looked out across the baseball field to his right. He saw the soldiers in a sort of ragtag arc, an uneven curved line across the middle of the field, not far from the chain-link fence, fifty or sixty of them, kneeling. At one moment they together raised their weapons, pointed their rifles at the students who had followed them over the hill. But they did not fire. After a moment, the group of them stood up and began to move back in the direction from which they had come.
Now on the other side of Taylor Hall, Buddy Jeffrey stood at the edge of the parking lot. With his fierce eyes trained on his nemesis soldiers, he persisted in shouting profusely at them. He had entered the twilight zone of unbounded discontent. When the Guard knelt and positioned their weapons as if to fire, his yelling suddenly stilled. He wondered what the hell they would do now.
A moment later, they stood and began a retreat in the direction from which they had come.
Buddy Jeffrey knew then that the students had won. The soldiers had been turned around; they were retreating. The thrill of victory overcame him and he leaped in the excitement of his comrades overcoming the excesses of the military-industrial complex. “Pigs off campus!” he declared loudly, his voice now hoarse with exhaustion. This was the end of what he had striven for.
Guardman Joe went following his squadmates, trudging and sweating their way slowly back up the hill, guns at ready. The Guards were cut off from the rational world, their faces bound by sweaty gas-masks that insulated their civilian sensitivities apart from rational evaluation, and removed their attention far, far away from any awareness of the fragility and defenselessness of their foolishly bold oppressors. Finding themselves now surrounded by stone-pelting renegades on the athletic field, they turned and retreated back up the hill, reversing the path of their earlier advance. But something had changed; some safeguard had slipped away, slithered away into the confusion and the sweat and near-panic of this moment. With all caution fatefully fading into exhaustion and beyond the pale of their other identity as civilian regulars—regular guys who just happened to be assigned through this last weekend to an insanely abnormal task, they reached the top of the hill again and there they reached the end of their rope, and so, untethered from any normal sensibility or civilized propriety now they went over the edge as shit happens and one of their brethren took a bullet or some other projectile of hellish disorientation and confused desperation and it suddenly became a conscious thought beneath their collective helmet that someone was assaulting them with unauthorized lethal projectiles fired or so it was that they experienced it beneath their fogged masks. From the rooftop over there in the southward direction some estranged presence or maybe it was a heavy object or a missilic object penetrated their platoon, violated their soldierly brotherhood in a way unanticipated and unauthorized by the law of the land or the rules of engagement or even the bare-naked urge for survival itself. ‘Twas then the ancient reflex of the warrior took ascendancy within their members and suddenly the line of reason and acceptable civil conflict was crossed and they turned.
Pow! Donnie heard it,; it must be the Lexington and Concord rerun. Blam! Boom!
Because we recently visited Jerusalem, in Israel, I would like to share with you this very special song, written by my friend David Browne, which he recorded a decade or two ago, with singing from friends Danny and Donna, and oboe by Jenny. . .
As I am aging baby boomer, recently I was reflecting upon the times in which my generation has been born, come of age, and then moved past youth into middle age and whatever comes after that. I was remembering some great old songs from back in the day, not mine, but classic for our times. So I slapped a few of them down on an MP3 and now I'll share them with you,if that's ok. I hope Dolly and Gordon and Brook and Sam's heirs and Paul and Winona and Naomi don't mind me reminding you what great songs these were back in the day, and still are great songs. Have a listen:
Here's a little ditty about my adopted home state:
In chapter 16 of King of Soul , the novel about 1969 that I published in 2017, we find Donnie and Marcy dining in an off-campus hangout, when they are joined by Donnie's friend, Kevin, who is a political activist. The setting is near LSU,1969:
“Those Yippies—they were really just a bunch of hippies, right?”
Kevin’s face assumed a professorial demeanor. He was in his element now, and it was evident. “You could, uh, you could say that, Marcy, but these people—they had gathered in Lincoln Park, on the north side, a few days before the convention actually started. They are the political version of those folks you’re calling ‘the hippies.’ Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and all that crowd—they’re not just into free love and smoking dope and all that flower child stuff—they see all of it as a cultural revolution. I wasn’t there when they started doing their thing in Lincoln Park, because I didn’t arrive in Chicago until Monday afternoon. Their public acts—the skinny-dipping in Lake Michigan, smoking dope, nominating a pig for president—they’re trying to freak people—I mean, like, most Americans, straight, boring people—the Yippies want to rock their boat, make ‘em wake up to really living life instead of wasting away.”
“What is it about the way most Americans live that is, uh, wasting away?” Marcy tilted her head to one side, smiled innocently at him.
Donnie was watching her; his feeling about her was that the way she cocked her head like that was quite endearing. But Kevin’s appreciation of Marcy was different. He was thoroughly engaged with her worldview. “Conformity,” he said, as if it were self-explanatory.
“Oh.” She smiled and looked at Donnie. He returned the smile and shrugged his shoulders. She continued, “Conformity, okay so, what about it?”
“Well, it’s, you know, the tickee-tackkee house in the suburbs and Ozzie and Harriet and keeping up system and the status quo, which keeps the war going”—
“Wait, wait,” Donnie interrupted. “What does the status quo have to do with keeping the war going?”
Kevin’s face registered surprise. His zeal had brought his posture to an upright position, which he now relaxed somewhat. Looking at Donnie, he replied, choosing his words, “When people are taken care of, when they’re fat and happy, comfortable, mesmerized by the TV, they don’t pay attention to what’s really going on. They’re too caught up in their own lives to notice that their government is conducting a war against a bunch of rice-cultivating peasants in southeast Asia.” Kevin’s eyebrows were raised. The former attitude of amusement had gravitated toward a serious indictment of what he considered to be, apparently, the American way of life.
After a pause, as the sound system was wailing out Creedence . . .
“I see a hurricane a blowing,
I see trouble on the way.
Don’t go out tonight; they’re bound to take your life.
There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
“Kevin,” said Donnie, softly, “you can’t blame the American people for the war just because the government is prolonging it.”
“Oh yeah?” Kevin’s countenance had changed. Now he looked sad. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up in Cleveland. It’s not like around here.”
Consider this excerpt from chapter 19 of Glass half-Full , in which we find Marcus working hard to remove the stain:
Marcus opened a can of turpentine. He tipped it slightly so that its upper contents would spill onto a rag that lay on the parking lot next to his car. With the rag partially soaked, he began rubbing on the driver's-side door. Someone had painted a black swastika on it while he was working late. His cell phone rang.
Other music to reflect upon:
In 2007, Carey wrote and published Glass half-Full, which is a story about some good people who live in the Washington DC area, but some bad things happen to them.
During 2008, he hatched Glass Chimera, which pertains to genetic engineering and buried treasure at a university in New Orleans.
2011 brought forth Smoke, a story in which the year 1937 is portrayed, through the eyes of a young American businessman as he travels through France, glancing off the Spanish Civil, befriending a German Jewish refugee family, falling in love, and visiting the grave of his father, who had died in a battle in Belgium in the last week of World War I.
By 2017, Carey had mustered up the words and chutzpah to fictionally chronicle the defining issue of his Baby Boomer generation—the war in Vietnam. King of Soul depicts the coming-of-age of college student Donnie Evans, who did not fight in Vietnam. But Donnie’s young life is profoundly affected by the Ho-induced maelstrom that surrounded Vietnam, and dominated politics in the USA, during that terrible time of our history.
Carey lives in Boone with his wife of 42 years, Pat. Being retired, he happily cultivates a vigilant fascination with human history. Ongoing research compels a writerly response. The outcome of this late phase is four novels and 900+ blogs. It's something to do . . . until he is lifted up into that great Gospel in the sky, by 'n by.
Copyright © Carey Rowland
Consider buying a good book today.
in south Charlotte:
in north Charlotte:
in Boone, NC:
in Charleston SC:
in San Francisco:
in Tiburon, CA:
in Greensboro, NC:
and King of Soul
are all available for purchase on Amazon ,
Quantities of 10 or more can be obtained at a price of $10 each, from the author.